The digital space has grown exponentially in the last couple of years. Recent data has shown that more than 4.66 billion people use the internet every day. This number is set to continue growing over the year. With the internet becoming such a crucial part of our day-to-day lives, companies and individuals are moving with speed to create websites and connect with loved ones all over the world.
Unfortunately, website owners and users have to deal with various challenges. Bot traffic is one of the severe threats internet users have to deal with. Malicious bots conduct almost all cybersecurity threats. These bots are used to take advantage of weaknesses and launch brute force attacks. They can harm customer experience and ruin your reputation. This is not to mention the vast financial losses you might face.
To win the war against malicious bot traffic, website owners have to take advantage of bot management. This comprehensive guide will discuss everything about bots and how you can keep your site secure from malicious bot traffic. Keep reading to discover everything you ought to know about bot detection.
First Things First: What is Bot Traffic?
Simply put, bot traffic refers to non-human traffic to your website. Bot traffic comes from automated programs and bots. Bots refer to programs that are designed to conduct repetitive tasks. They are faster than the average human. Bots are also more accurate than humans.
You will be surprised to know that more than 29% of all website traffic is bot traffic. These bots perform various tasks, including scanning website content, conducting brute attacks, chatting with internet users, or interacting with your website. Even though most people associate bots with malicious activities, some bots are used for legitimate reasons. For example, search engine bots are used to index content to give users valuable results. Like human traffic, bots also have IP addresses.
Types of Bots
As mentioned earlier, not all bots are bad. Although most people associate bots with malicious activities, some bots are used for good reasons. Let us break it down for you below:
These bots are used for the greater good. Let us look at some examples of good bots below to help you understand:
- Chatbots. These types of bots interact with humans and can hold conversations. Such bots have a unique personality and can be used to take messages when a customer agent is not around.
- Crawlers. The role of crawlers is to index data from APIs and other websites. These bots are commonly used by search engines such as Google and Bing. There are other crawler bots such as alertbot used to monitor server uptime and pricing assistants used to observe price changes.
- Transactional Bots. These bots behave like humans and are used to achieve desired transactions. A good example of a transactional bot would be Birdly.
- Entertainment Bot. Also known as game bots or art bots, these bots focus on visual appearance.
As the name suggests, these bots are used for malicious reasons. Site owners and internet users should work hard to protect themselves from such bots. Bad bots are categorized into different groups according to what they do. Below are some of the most dangerous bad bots that you should watch out for:
- Click Bots. Cybercriminals use click bots for click spamming. They behave like typical humans and click on advertisements. The role of these bots is to trick publishers and companies running PPC into thinking that real visitors are clicking on the ad.
- Download Bots Download bots are similar to click bots. However, download bots perform fake downloads. Publishers and companies that deal with downloadable products should be wary of these bots.
- Scrapper Bots. Web scraping bots copy site data at a breakneck pace. These bots can then paste the stolen data to another site. Dealing with scraper bots can be a problem since scraping is legal.
- Spambots. Cybercriminals use these bots to direct traffic to fake websites and conduct phishing attacks. Spambots can damage your site’s reputation and SEO performance.
- Spy Bots. These bots obtain sensitive and personal information, including email addresses and financial records.
Why Is It Hard to Stop Bot Traffic?
Bot traffic can have adverse effects on your website. It can harm your reputation, ruin the user experience, slow down your site’s SEO performance, and lead to substantial financial losses. That is why bot detection and management are crucial. The problem is that dealing with bad traffic is not as easy as it seems. You will experience several challenges, including:
- It might be challenging to identify good and malicious bots. Good bots add so much value to your site, and you should not block good bot traffic.
- Malicious bots continue to advance every day. They are masking themselves as real human traffic and changing IP addresses randomly.
How Does Bot Detection Work?
Like mentioned earlier, identifying bad and good bots can be an issue. That is where bot detection comes in. Effective bot detection strategies seek to identify good and bad web traffic to your website. This way, you can stop bad traffic to your website and allow good bots to function correctly. Here is how bot detection works:
Effective bot detection programs use this approach to subject the incoming traffic to various tests, including CAPTCHA. While bot traffic will have trouble dealing with these tests, real human traffic should not solve the challenges.
Also known as fingerprinting, this strategy involves determining the source of the traffic. The program focuses on various things such as the type of browser, IP address, and OS version, among other things. The obtained information is then compared with already identified malicious bots to stop malicious bot traffic. However, this method only works for already known bad bots.
Also known as behavioral bots, this strategy focuses on the intent and identification of incoming bot traffic. Bot detection programs use machine-learning technologies and AI to identify and stop bad bots in real-time.
Tips for Stopping Bot Traffic
Investing in an efficient bot detection program is the best way of stopping malicious bot traffic to your site. It will also help to monitor your site regularly and notify users when you notice suspicious behavior.